Even if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you can still go green
I LOVE Christmas. I love that our house has a month of looking all special and sparkly, I love the excitement of the kids getting an advents calendar surprise each morning, I love watching feelgood Christmas movies, listening to
Christmas carols and the fact that Christmas brings families and friends together, I love the amazing food, and I especially love the smiles on my kids’ faces opening presents on Christmas day (ok, so it’s definitely not always this stress free, but you get the point!). There is one thing though that I really don’t like about Christmas – and no it’s not the frantic shopping experiences or my empty bank account – it’s my suddenly-much-larger carbon footprint.
At Christmas we indulge ourselves; we drive around using up fuel and buying more ‘stuff’ (that is not always needed or useful), we treat ourselves to Christmas chocolates and treats purchased on a whim, we travel to all corners to catch up with family, we want more, buy more, eat more, do more, waste more. In the UK alone it is estimated that the total waste from food and drink, packaging, wrapping paper, cards, Christmas trees and other rubbish at Christmas is in excess of five million tonnes!! So how can you go greener this Christmas?
Every Christmas we chop down a ridiculous number of extra trees with the sole purpose of producing tonnes of Christmas wrapping paper. All of this ends up at the tip, sky-rocketing our landfill production over the festive period. But it can be recycled you say? Ahh, no. Christmas wrapping paper is more often than not shiny foil coated, glitter encrusted or contains plastic or dyes that can’t be recycled. Anything with regular sticky tape may not end up being recycled either. We’ve provided some sustainable solutions to your Christmas wrapping paper that you can use when wrapping gifts this Christmas!
- Probably the easiest way to go green on wrapping paper is by choosing recycled, natural brown paper packaging or anything without shine or glitter in order that it can be recycled (don’t forget to use recycled brown paper tape as well!). This has a traditional Christmas look to it, is usually cheaper than regular shiny wrapping, and you can really sparkle it up with environmentally friendly decorations! Try stamps, environmentally friendly twine, jute, raffia or fabric ribbon, maybe a sprig of rosemary, eucalyptus or some cinnamon sticks or pinecones, or even a cute wooden tree decoration or hair accessory that can be repurposed. You might have a lot of fun with this, and your gifts will appear like those on Pinterest!
- Using brown paper wrapping also allows you to avoid gift tags and simply write your message on the wrapping. If you prefer gift tags, however, make sure they are recycled and recyclable, or make your own from last year’s Christmas cards. Choosing tags that double as something else, like flat tree decorations that you can write on, or luggage tags, are another eco-friendly way to go.
- If you receive a brown paper carry bag with your Christmas gift purchase, simply keep your purchase inside and add a Christmas tree ornament and some ribbon to the handles to double as your wrapping!
- If you’re organized, you could start collecting your cereal and muesli bar boxes or that oversized mystery box you’ve picked up and use these in place of wrapping paper. Newspapers, junk mail, old magazines or children’s drawings can also make great wrapping. It will no doubt look colourful and fun under your Christmas tree!
- Try using pages of old books that you might pick up from a second-hand store. It looks super crafty, and if the books are chosen with your gift receiver in mind, this idea could be very humorous too!
- Wrapping your gifts in something reusable will avoid adding to landfill altogether. A beautiful piece of fabric that can be later sewn into simple headbands, a gift box, a basket, a Christmas tin… the ideas are endless! Or you could aim to give a present within a present by wrapping your gifts in things like a festive tea towel, a scarf, a toiletry bag, a calico bag for taking to the beach, a produce bag or a foldaway shopping bag.
- Recycle what you no longer use. Wrap your gifts in that top that you no longer wear or old Christmas tablecloths or tea towels that you’ve since replaced.
- Who has time for wrapping anyway? Try a present hunt around your garden or inside your home. This is as exciting as unwrapping presents but completely waste-free! Another way to avoid wrapping is to keep a Santa sack for each member of your immediate family that you can fill with unwrapped Santa gifts (after all, Santa’s elves don’t always have time to wrap their gifts, right?). You’ll have more time to lounge around together checking out each other’s gifts and might even fit one more Christmas movie in!
- Why not offer ‘experiences’ as gifts? All too often we think of the next greatest toy, gadget or household item, sometimes to replace something that doesn’t even really need updating. Consider gift vouchers to someone’s favourite store, café or restaurant, tickets to a concert, massage vouchers. Not only do experiences require no wrapping, you could be giving an eco-friendly gift as well!
- Gift the gift of giving to charity, either by buying their merchandise or donating to a purpose. You can also purchase Christmas cards that give back to charity. You’ll feel great both about helping others and going green.
- Another great way to reduce the amount of wrapping you use is simply to reduce the number of gifts you give! Choose gifts wisely so that they will be really appreciated; a few less gifts may go unnoticed. Do Secret Santa with your family so that everyone still receives a gift. Buying less will not only waste less, it’s also a great way to save money giving you extra spending money to do something nice on the holidays!
- Don’t forget, after all your efforts to save trees and reduce landfill by making sure your Christmas wrapping is eco-friendly this Christmas, no doubt your family and friends still gift you shiny wrapped presents to open for yourself! Don’t let this dampen your eco-friendly spirits. Make sure to carefully open your presents without ripping the paper and save the wrapping, gift bags, ribbons and trimmings for your next craft project or for reusing next year – you’ll save both the environment, and your wallet!
Until next time, happy green Christmas!
Sources: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018623202/is-christmas-wrapping-paper-bad-for-the-environment https://globalnews.ca/news/4715273/gift-wrap-green-tips/ https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/27/the-eco-friendly-guide-to-christmas-gift-wrap-8169273/ https://thoroughlymoderngrandma.com/zero-waste-friendly-christmas-wrapping/ https://trinature.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=61&utm_source=Tri+Nature+Consultant+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=acccc4b43a-Blog-EcoKitchenDesigns_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a973ab5fbb-acccc4b43a-85710121 https://trinature.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=61&utm_source=Tri+Nature+Consultant+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=acccc4b43a-Blog-EcoKitchenDesigns_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a973ab5fbb-acccc4b43a-85710121 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/dec/13/christmas2006.greenchristmas